Republican Charlie Baker has opened up a 9-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley, 45 percent to 36 percent, according to a new Globe poll that depicts a far more comfortable advantage than either candidate for governor has enjoyed in months.
The poll reflects an October surge in independent voters toward Baker’s column. It was independents who provided Governor Deval Patrick with his margins of victory in 2006 and 2010.
Baker’s standing has improved from last week’s poll, which showed the two candidates dead even. It can be attributed largely to the gains he has made in voters’ perceptions of who would improve the economy and manage state government, areas that already were tilting his way. At the same time, Baker has offset the deficits he faced on issues such as education and health care, where Coakley still holds an edge, but a diminished one.
“There is just positive movement in every single metric we can ask around Baker,” said pollster John Della Volpe, chief executive of SocialSphere Inc., which conducts the weekly poll for the Globe. “The more voters have gotten to know him, the stronger he performs.”
Overall, Baker has moved from 38 percent support to 45 percent since late August. Coakley dropped 5 points this week, the poll found, after having held steady throughout much of the fall. Baker’s growth, said Della Volpe, has come almost entirely from voters who have made up their minds since the beginning of September. Eleven percent of voters remain undecided.
The live telephone survey of 500 likely Massachusetts voters was conducted between Oct. 19 and Oct. 22 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The Globe typically surveys 400 voters a week on the governor’s race but this week added an extra 100 interviews to broaden the scope of the survey. On questions about other matters, the 400-voter, three-day sample was maintained; those questions carry a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
The poll depicts an electorate highly susceptible to the recent barrage of political advertising on television. Two weeks ago, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, led Baker by 5 points in the same poll. According to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, a firm that tracks political television commercials, $2.2 million in ads paid for by gubernatorial candidates and allied groups — more than 1,700 individual spots — aired on broadcast television from Oct. 12 through Oct. 19.
The campaign’s three unenrolled candidates continue to have little impact. Evan Falchuk garners 3 percent in the poll, and both Jeffrey S. McCormick and Scott Lively drawing 2 percent.
Also on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election are four policy referendums.
Voters are evenly divided, at 42 percent, on whether to eliminate the provision in a new state law linking the gas tax to cost of living.
A question on whether to expand the state “bottle bill,” by requiring deposits on nonalcoholic, noncarbonated beverages fares far worse, with just 29 percent supporting the measure, and 63 percent opposed.
Voters also appear determined to keep in motion the state’s move toward casino gambling, with 53 percent opposed to a measure to outlaw casinos, slot machines, and simulcast horserace betting. Thirty-nine percent support repeal.
Almost the same division marks voter reaction to a question on paid sick time. Fifty-three percent support a measure to grant employees earned sick time under certain conditions, while 35 percent oppose it.
In the governor’s race, Baker has picked up momentum with an across-the-board improvement on questions where voters were asked which candidate would do a better job handling certain broad policy areas. For instance, in mid-September, the poll gave him a 15-point lead over Coakley on creating jobs. In this week’s poll, he is ahead by 24 points.
Voters still think Coakley would do better ensuring high-quality, affordable health care, but the 15-point edge she had in mid-September is now down to 6 points.
“What we’ve seen from mid-September through today is that Baker has either extended his lead or closed a gap in which he was deficient,” Della Volpe said, adding, “Based on that, I’m not surprised that he was able to . . . create a lead, and some distance for the first time.”
Among independents, Baker has nearly triple the support that Coakley has, 57 percent to 20 percent. In mid-September, when Coakley had an overall lead of 39 percent to 36 percent, Baker had secured 43 percent of the independent vote, to Coakley’s 24 percent.
Coakley maintains a healthy lead among Democrats, 74 percent to 13 percent. But her advantage among women is down to 4 points, after an 11-point margin last week. Men support Baker by a split of 55 percent to 30 percent.
Polling the governor's race
If the election were held tomorrow, who would you vote for?
NOTE: Data unavailable for the weeks of Sept. 3 and Sept. 10.
DATA: SocialSphere Inc.
FULL POLL RESULTS